Updated: Sep 13, 2021
The secret to a truly delicious Oyster Mushroom is in the crispiness!
Even if you aren't fond of button mushrooms, it will be worth your while trying crispy oyster mushrooms! (Or sneaking them into your partners/kids dish so long as they are not allergic ... ;) )
Oyster Mushrooms are very different than the button mushroom variety -- not only in taste, but also in texture. It is the texture of button mushrooms, especially when cooked, that are what the mushroom 'haters' tend to be weary of. Fair enough, too ... when overdone, buttons can end-up a bit on the slimy-side.
Oyster mushrooms, however, when cooked long enough, can achieve a CRUNCHY texture. Either pan-fried in a skillet or baked in the oven, they can get as crunchy as a crisp! The flavour is closer to maybe bacon than it is to a regular button mushroom. Oyster mushrooms do, however, pick-up the flavour of whatever you cook them in. Soy-sauce, chipotle sauce, balsamic, rice wine vinegar, cooking wine -- or any flavour you are after for a particular recipe -- is easily picked up by the mushrooms. Here are a few basic steps for cooking oyster mushrooms successfully. This can be applied in any dish - such as pizza, eggs, soup, pasta, etc. In fact, we often cook our oyster mushrooms separate to the main dish to ensure the crunchy texture and then add them in at the end. Anyway, this is the simple baking method and pan-frying method.
Prepping the Oyster Mushrooms to cook
First, cut the thick, dense part, at the base of the stem, off. The stem itself can be cooked but ensure that the super-dense-part, where any debris from growing may be left, is removed. Separate the oyster mushroom cluster in to individual mushrooms or chop them roughly into evenly-sized pieces. The mushrooms will reduce down while cooking, so you can use a substantial amount.
Can oyster mushrooms be eaten raw?
We highly recommend cooking all mushrooms. Cooking mushrooms unlocks the nutrients within so they become bioavailable to humans. In other words, we cannot get any vitamins and minerals from mushrooms unless they are cooked!
Nutrients found in Oyster Mushrooms
When it comes to vitamins, oyster mushrooms are moderate to high in riboflavin and pantothenic acid, while having smaller amounts of folate, vitamin B6, and thiamin. Minerals found in oyster mushrooms include phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and selenium. Oyster mushrooms also contain dietary fibre, beta-glucan, and several other polysaccharides.
The Pan-Frying Method
Cooking time: 10-15 mins
For pan-frying, heat oil or butter in the pan until pretty hot. Coconut oil or butter work best for hotter temperature cooking. Toss the chopped or whole mushrooms into the pan and spread evenly. Use tongs to flip the whole mushrooms (like bacon or facon heyyy), or for chopped mushrooms stir every few minutes and scrape off the bottom.
To cook them until crunchy, keep cooking longer than you expect. The mushrooms will eventually let go of any water they are holding and have a nice crunch. Pull one out and give it a try to see if the desired texture has been reached. Add an additional tablespoon of butter or oil if the mushrooms start to smoke or stick too much. You can also 'deglaze' the pan by adding wine, balsamic, water or a bit of bone-broth or vegetable-broth to prevent sticking and add depth to the dish. You may have to 'deglaze' a few times as the mushrooms will soak up the liquids, so stand by to add a tablespoon or so at a time.
Once the mushrooms are about finished cooking to your desired crunch level, either use the oyster mushrooms as is, or add your flavouring. Add soy-sauce, chipotle sauce, Tabasco, balsamic, siracha ... whatever you're feeling. Careful when adding liquid to the hot pan, as it will steam dramatically (good time to pretend you are in Chef Ramsey's kitchen or impress guests) - make sure your extractor fan is turned on!
The Oven-Bake Method
Cooking time: 15-20 mins
For cooking in the oven, preheat the oven to 180C.
Toss the chopped mushrooms in oil or spread a thin layer of oil on the pan and place whole mushrooms with the gills facing up, then drizzle oil over mushrooms. Add any herbs or spices here, even a drizzle of soy sauce or balsamic vinegar adds tremendous flavour. Simply chuck the mushrooms in and bake until browned. This usually takes between 15-20 minutes depending on how thin the mushrooms are chopped.
You can use crunchy mushrooms in any dish -- add them to soup, salads, stir-fries, pastas, risotto -- even simply add them to your eggs for a healthy, gourmet touch. Whole crunchy oyster mushrooms are a great entrée by themselves, they usually don't even make it far from the kitchen!